Alex Wright

skandhas, the sequel

October 23, 2002

having spent another two weeks traipsing through the profound taxonomy of the skandhas (the Buddhist teachings on the structure of mind - cf. my last post), I had hoped to come back here and explain the whole business once and for all.

well, maybe someday. at this point, I won't claim to have acquired more than a cursory understanding, certainly nowhere near enough for me to expound on these teachings beyond outlining a few of the very basics.

disclaimers aside, let me share another couple of tidbits.

in the last installment, we talked about the five skandhas and the fifty-one mental factors contained within them. you guessed it, there's more:

within the fifth skandha, conciousness, are contained not one but eight distinct types of consciousness:

  • one each for the five senses
  • a sixth consciousness, the thinking mind, that spends most of its time apprehending the first five, and the rest of its time apprehending itself
  • a seventh consciousness, that manifests the sense of self (or "ego," though not in a Freudian sense), the gnawing "I" that demands recognition, makes demands on others, and belligerently insists on its own existence
  • finally, the eighth consciousness - and this is where it gets a little wiggy if you don't buy the reincarnation stuff - is the klensha, a sort of neutral canvas that carries the imprint of karma. the eighth consciousness is essentially the place where you are constantly writing your ticket for the next ride (again, you pretty much have to drink the kool-aid on this one)

I'm going to refrain from going too much deeper into these teachings until I feel more personally qualified to dispense this kind of stuff. for further reading, I recommend anything by Chogyam Trungpa, particularly Glimpses of Abidharma, which includes transcripts of several of the lectures we studied in the class.

File under: Dharma

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